And this life of the world is nothing but a sport and a play; and as for the next abode, that most
surely is the life-- did they but know!
This life is the shadow of
a cloud-----the sleeper's dream [Imam Ali a.s]
The chapter you are about to read reveals
a CRUCIAL secret of your life. You
should read it very
attentively and thoroughly for it concerns a subject
that is liable to make a fundamental change
your outlook on the external world. The subject of this
chapter is not just a point of view, a different approach,
or a traditional philosophical thought: it is a fact
which everyone, believing or unbelieving,
must admit and
which is also
proven by science today
People who contemplate their surroundings conscientiously
and wisely realise that everything in the universe-both living and non-living-must have been created. So the question becomes
that of "Who is the creator of all these things?"
It is evident that "the fact of creation", which reveals itself
in every aspect of the universe, cannot be an outcome of the universe itself. For example, a bug cannot have created itself.
The solar system cannot have created or organised itself. Neither plants, humans, bacteria, erythrocytes (red-blood corpuscles),
nor butterflies can have created themselves. Also the possibility that all these could have originated "by chance" is not
We therefore arrive at the following conclusion: Everything
that we see has been created, but nothing we see can themselves be "creators". The Creator is different from and superior
to all that we see with our eyes, a superior power that is invisible but whose existence and attributes are revealed in everything
This is the point at which those who deny the existence of Allah
demur. These people are conditioned not to believe in His existence unless they see Him with their eyes. These people, who
disregard the fact of "creation", are forced to ignore the actuality of "creation" manifest throughout the universe and try
to prove that the universe and the living things in it have not been created. Evolutionary theory is an essential example
of their vain endeavours to this end.
The basic mistake of those who deny Allah is shared by some
people who do not really deny the existence of Allah but have a wrong perception of Him. They do not deny creation but have
superstitious beliefs about "where" Allah is. Some think that Allah is up in the "sky". They tacitly imagine that Allah is
behind a very distant planet and interferes with "worldly affairs" once in a while, or perhaps does not intervene at all.
They imagine that He created the universe and then left it to itself, leaving people to determine their fates for themselves.
Still others have heard that it is written in the Qur'an that
Allah is "everywhere" but they cannot conceive what exactly this means. They think that Allah surrounds everything like radio
waves or like an invisible, intangible gas.
However, this and other beliefs that are unable to make clear
"where" Allah is (and maybe because of that deny Him) are all based on a common mistake. They are prejudiced without any grounds
for it and so are then moved to wrong opinions of Allah. What is this prejudice?
This prejudice is about the nature and characteristics of matter.
We are so conditioned in our suppositions about the existence of matter that we never think whether it does exist or not or
whether it is only a shadow. Modern science demolishes this prejudice and discloses a very important and revealing reality.
In the following pages, we will try to clarify this great reality to which the Qur'an points.
THE WORLD OF ELECTRICAL SIGNALS
All the information that we have about the world in which we
live is conveyed to us by our five senses. The world we know of consists of what our eyes see, our hands feel, our noses smell,
our tongues taste, and our ears hear. We never think that the "external" world could be anything other than that which our
senses present to us, as we have been dependent on only those senses since birth.
Modern research in many different fields of science points to
a very different understanding and creates serious doubt about our senses and the world that we perceive with them.
The starting-point of this approach is that the notion of an
"external world" shaped in our brain is only a response created in our brain by electrical signals. The redness of apples,
the hardness of wood and, moreover, your mother, father, family, and everything that you own, your house, job, and the lines
of this book, are comprised only of electrical signals.
Frederick Vester explains the point that science has reached
on this subject:
Statements of some scientists posing that "man is an image,
everything experienced is temporary and deceptive, and this universe is a shadow", seems to be proven by science
in our day.1
The famous philosopher, George Berkeley commented on the subject
We believe in the existence of objects just because we see and touch them,
and they are reflected to us by our perceptions. However, our perceptions are only ideas in our mind. Thus, objects we captivate
by perceptions are nothing but ideas, and these ideas are essentially in nowhere but our mind… Since all these exist
only in the mind, then it means that we are beguiled by deceptions when we imagine the universe and things to have an existence
outside the mind. So, none of the surrounding things have an existence out of our mind.2
In order to clarify the subject, let us consider our sense of
sight, which provides us with the most extensive information about the external world.
How Do We See, Hear, and Taste?
The act of seeing is realised progressively. Light clusters
(photons) travel from the object to the eye and pass through the lens at the front of the eye where they are refracted and
fall upside-down on the retina at the back of the eye. Here, impinging light is turned into electrical signals that are transmitted
by neurons to a tiny spot called the centre of vision in the back of the brain. This electrical signal is perceived as an
image in this centre in the brain after a series of processes. The act of seeing actually takes place in this tiny spot in
the posterior part of the brain, which is pitch-dark and completely insulated from light.
Stimulations coming from an object are converted into electrical signals and cause an effect in the brain. When we "see",
we in fact view the effects of these electrical signals in our mind.
Now, let us reconsider this seemingly ordinary and unremarkable
process. When we say, "we see", we are in fact seeing the effects of impulses reaching our eyes and induced in our brain,
after they are transformed into electrical signals. That is, when we say, "we see", we are actually observing electrical signals
in our mind.
All the images we view in our lives are formed in our centre
of vision, which only comprises a few cubic centimetres of the volume of the brain. Both the book you are now reading and
the boundless landscape you see when you gaze at the horizon fit into this tiny space. Another point that has to be kept in
mind is that, as we have noted before, the brain is insulated from light; its inside is absolutely dark. The brain has no
contact with light itself.
We can explain this interesting situation with an example. Let
us suppose that in front of us there is a burning candle. We can sit opposite this candle and watch it at length. However,
during this period, our brain never has any direct contact with the original light of the candle. Even as we see the light
of the candle, the inside of our brain is completely dark. We watch a colourful and bright world inside our dark brain.
R. L. Gregory gives the following explanation about the miraculous
aspects of seeing, something that we take so much for granted:
We are so familiar with seeing, that it takes a leap of imagination to realise
that there are problems to be solved. But consider it. We are given tiny distorted upside-down images in the eyes, and we
see separate solid objects in surrounding space. From the patterns of simulation on the retinas we perceive the world of objects,
and this is nothing short of a miracle.3
The same situation applies to all our other senses. Sound, touch,
taste and smell are all transmitted to the brain as electrical signals and are perceived in the relevant centres in the brain.
The sense of hearing works in a similar manner to that of sight.
The outer ear picks up sounds by the auricle and directs them to the middle ear. The middle ear transmits the sound vibrations
to the inner ear and intensifies them. The inner ear translates the vibrations into electrical signals, which it sends into
the brain. Just as with the eye, the act of hearing finally takes place in the centre of hearing in the brain. The brain is
insulated from sound just as it is from light. Therefore, no matter how noisy it is outside, the inside of the brain is completely
Even the moment when we feel the light and heat of a fire, the inside of our brain is pitch dark and its temperature
Bundles of light coming from an object fall on the retina upside-down. Here, the image is converted into electrical signals
and transmitted to the centre of vision at the back of the brain. Since the brain is insulated from light, it is impossible
for light to reach the centre of vision. This means that we view a vast world of light and depth in a tiny spot that is insulated
Nevertheless, even the subtlest sounds are perceived in the
brain. This is so precise that the ear of a healthy person hears everything without any atmospheric noise or interference.
In your brain, which is insulated from sound, you listen to the symphonies of an orchestra, hear all the noises of a crowded
place, and perceive all the sounds within a wide frequency range, from the rustling of a leaf to the roar of a jet plane.
However, if the sound level in your brain were to be measured by a sensitive device at that moment, it would be seen that
a complete silence is prevailing there.
Our perception of odour is formed in a similar way. Volatile
molecules emitted by things such as vanilla or a rose reach the receptors in the delicate hairs in the epithelium region of
the nose and become involved in an interaction. This interaction is transmitted to the brain as electrical signals and perceived
as smell. Everything that we smell, be it pleasant or unpleasant, is nothing but the brain's perception of the interactions
of volatile molecules after they have been transformed into electrical signals. You perceive the scent of a perfume, a flower,
a food that you like, the sea, or other odours you like or dislike, in your brain. The molecules themselves never reach the
brain. Just as with sound and vision, what reach your brain simply electrical signals. In other words, all the odours that
you have assumed - since you were born - to belong to external objects are just electrical signals that you feel through your
Similarly, there are four different types of chemical receptors
in the front part of a human's tongue. These pertain to the four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Our taste receptors
transform these perceptions into electrical signals through a chain of chemical processes and transmit them to the brain.
These signals are perceived as taste by the brain. The taste you experience when you eat a chocolate bar or a fruit that you
like is the interpretation of electrical signals by the brain. You can never reach the object in the external world; you can
never see, smell or taste the chocolate itself. For instance, if the taste nerves that travel to the brain are cut, the taste
of things you eat will not reach your brain; you will completely lose your sense of taste.
At this point, we come across another fact: We can never be sure that what
we experience when we taste a food and what another person experiences when he tastes the same food, or what we perceive when
we hear a voice and what another person perceives when he hears the same voice are the same. Lincoln Barnett says that no
one can know whether another person perceives the colour red or hears the C note the in same way as does he himself.4
Our sense of touch is no different from the others. When we
touch an object, all information that will help us recognise the external world and objects are transmitted to the brain by
the sense nerves on the skin. The feeling of touch is formed in our brain. Contrary to general belief, the place where we
perceive the sense of touch is not at our finger-tips or on our skins but at the centre of touch perception in our brains.
Because of the brain's interpretation of electrical stimuli coming to it from
All we see in our lives are formed in a part of our brain called "vision center" at the back of our brain, which makes
up only a few cubic centimetres. Both the book you are now reading and the boundless landscape you see when you gaze at the
horizon fit into this tiny space. Therefore, we see objects not in their actual size existing outside, but in the size perceived
by our brain.
objects, we experience those objects differently such as that
they are hard or soft, hot or cold. We derive all the details that help us recognise an object from these stimuli. Concerning
this, the thoughts of two famous philosophers, B. Russell and L. Wittgenstein, are as follows:
For instance, whether a lemon truly exists or not and how it came to exist
cannot be questioned and investigated. A lemon consists merely of a taste sensed by the tongue, an odour sensed by the nose,
a colour and shape sensed by the eye; and only these features of it can be subject to examination and assessment. Science
can never know the physical world.5
It is impossible for us to reach the physical world. All objects
around us are a collection of perceptions such as seeing, hearing, and touching. By processing the data in the centre of vision
and in other sensory centres, our brains, throughout our lives, do not confront the "original" of the matter existing outside
us but rather the copy formed inside our brain. It is at this point that we are misled by assuming these copies are instances
of real matter outside us..
"The External World" Inside Our Brain
From the physical facts described so far, we may conclude the
following. Everything we see, touch, hear, and perceive as "matter", "the world" or "the universe" is only electrical signals
occurring in our brain.
Someone eating a fruit does not confront the actual fruit but
its perception in the brain. The object considered by the person a "fruit" actually consists of electrical impressions of
the shape, taste, smell, and texture of the fruit in the brain. If the sight nerves travelling to the brain were to be severed
suddenly, the image of the fruit would suddenly disappear. A disconnection in the nerve travelling from the sensors in the
nose to the brain would completely interrupt the sense of smell. Put simply, the fruit is nothing but the brain's interpretation
of electrical signals.
As a result of artificial stimulations, a physical world as true and realistic as the real one can be formed in our brain
whithout the existance of physical world. As a result of artificial stimulations, a person may think that he is driving in
his car, while he is actually sitting in his home.
Another point to be considered is the sense of distance.
Distance, for example the distance between you and this book, is only a feeling of space formed in your brain. Objects that
seem to be distant in one person's view also exist in the brain. For instance, someone who watches the stars in the sky assumes
that they are millions of light-years away from him. Yet, what he "sees" are really the stars inside himself, in his centre
of vision. While you read these lines, you are, in truth, not inside the room you assume yourself to be in; on the contrary,
the room is inside you. Your seeing your body makes you think that you are inside it. However, you must remember that your
body, too, is an image formed inside your brain.
The same applies to all your other perceptions. For instance,
when you think that you hear the sound of the television in the next room, you are actually experiencing the sound inside
your brain. You can prove neither that a room exists next to yours, nor that a sound comes from the television in that room.
Both the sound you think to be coming from metres away and the conversation of a person right next to you are perceived in
a centre of hearing a few centimetres square in your brain. Apart from in this centre of perception, no concept such as right,
left, front or behind exists. That is, sound does not come to you from the right, from the left or from the air; there is
no direction from which sound comes.
The smells that you perceive are like that too; none of them
reaches you from a great distance. You suppose that the end-effects formed in your centre of smell are the smell of the objects
in the external world. However, just as the image of a rose is in your centre of vision, so the smell of the rose is in your
centre of smell; there is neither a rose nor an odour pertaining to it in the external world.
The "external world" presented to us by our perceptions is merely
a collection of electrical signals reaching our brains. Throughout our lives, our brains process these signals and we live
without recognising that we are mistaken in assuming that these are the original versions of things existing in the "external
world". We are misled because we can never reach the matters themselves by means of our senses.
Moreover, again our brains interpret and attribute meaning
to signals that we assume to be the "external world". For example, let us consider the sense of hearing. Our brains transform
the sound waves in the "external world" into a symphony. That is to say, music is also a perception created by our brains.
In the same manner, when we see colours, what reach our eyes are merely electrical signals of different wavelengths. Again
our brains transform these signals into colours. There are no colours in the "external world". Neither is the apple red, nor
is the sky blue, nor the trees green. They are as they are just because we perceive them to be so. The "external world" depends
entirely on the perceiver.
Even the slightest defect in the retina of the eye causes colour
blindness. Some people perceive blue as green, some red as blue, and some perceive all colours as different tones of grey.
At this point, it does not matter whether the object externally is coloured or not.
The findings of modern physics show that the universe is a collection of perceptions. The following question appears on
the cover of the well-known American science magazine New Scientist which dealt with this fact in its 30 January 1999 issue:
"Beyond Reality: Is the Universe Really a Frolic of Primal Information and Matter Just a Mirage?"
The prominent thinker Berkeley also addressed this fact:
At the beginning, it was believed that colours, odours, etc., "really exist",
but subsequently such views were renounced, and it was seen that they only exist in dependence on our sensations.6
In conclusion, the reason we see objects coloured is not
because they are coloured or because they have an independent material existence outside ourselves. The truth of the matter
is rather that all the qualities we ascribe to objects are inside us and not in the "external world".
So what remains of the "external world"?
Is the Existence of the "External World" Indispensable?
So far, we have been speaking repeatedly of an "external world"
and a world of perceptions formed in our brains, the latter of which is what we see. However, since we can never actually
reach the "external world", how can we be sure that such a world really exists?
Actually we cannot. Since each object is only a collection of
perceptions and those perceptions exist only in the mind, it is more accurate to say that the only world that really exists
is the world of perceptions. The only world we know of is the world that exists in our mind: the one that is designed, recorded,
and made vivid there; the one, in short, that is created within our mind. This is the only world of which we can be sure.
We can never prove that the perceptions we observe in our brain
have material correlates. Those perceptions could conceivably be coming from an "artificial" source.
It is possible to observe this. False stimuli can produce an
entirely imaginary "material world" in our brain. For example, let us imagine a very developed recording instrument in which
all kinds of electrical signals could be recorded. First, let us transmit all the data related to a setting (including body
image) to this instrument by transforming them into electrical signals. Second, let us imagine that the brain could survive
apart from the body. Finally, let us connect the recording instrument to the brain with electrodes that will function as nerves
and send the pre-recorded data to the brain. In this state, you would experience yourself living in this artificially created
setting. For instance, you could easily believe that you are driving fast on a highway. It might never become possible to
understand that you consist of nothing but your brain. This is because what is needed to form a world within your brain is
not the existence of a real world but rather the stimuli. It is perfectly possible that these stimuli could be coming from
an artificial source, such as a tape-recorder.
In that connection, distinguished philosopher Bertrand Russell
As to the sense of touch when we press the table with our fingers, that is
an electric disturbance on the electrons and protons of our fingertips, produced, according to modern physics, by the proximity
of the electrons and protons in the table. If the same disturbance in our finger-tips arose in any other way, we should have
the sensations, in spite of there being no table.7
It is indeed very easy for us to be deceived into believing
perceptions, without any material correlates, to be real. We often experience this feeling in our dreams, in which we experience
events, see people, objects and settings that seem completely real. However, they are all nothing but mere perceptions. There
is no basic difference between the dream and the "real world"; both of them are experienced in the brain.
Who Is the Perceiver?
As we have related so far, there is no doubt that the world we think we
inhabit and that we call the "external world" is perceived inside our brain. However, here arises the question of primary
importance. If all physical events that we know are intrinsically perceptions, what about our brain? Since our brains are
a part of the physical world just like our arms, legs, or any other objects, it also must be a perception just like all other
An example about dreams will illuminate the subject further. Let us think
that we see the dream within our brain in accordance with what has been said so far. In the dream, we will have an imaginary
body, an imaginary arm, an imaginary eye, and an imaginary brain. If during our dream we were asked "where do you see?", we
would answer "I see in my brain". The seer of the images is not the imaginary brain in the dream, but a "being" that is far
"superior" to it.
We know that there is no physical distinction between the setting of a
dream and the setting we call real life. So when we are asked in the setting we call real life the above question of "where
do you see", it would be just as meaningless to answer "in my brain" as in the example above. In both conditions, the entity
that sees and perceives is not the brain, which is after all only a hunk of meat.
When we analyse the brain, we see that there is nothing in it but lipid
and protein molecules, which also exist in other living organisms. This means that within the piece of meat we call our "brain",
there is nothing to observe the images, to constitute consciousness, or to create the being we call "myself".
R.L. Gregory refers to a mistake people make in relation to the perception
of images in the brain:
There is a temptation, which must be avoided, to say that the eyes produce
pictures in the brain. A picture in the brain suggests the need of some kind of internal eye to see it - but this would need
a further eye to see its picture… and so on in an endless regress of eyes and pictures. This is absurd.8
This is the very point that puts materialists, who do not hold anything
but matter to be true, in a quandary: to whom belongs "the eye inside" that sees, that perceives what it sees and reacts?
Karl Pribram also focused on this important question, about who the perceiver
is, in the world of science and philosophy:
Since the Greeks, philosophers have been thinking about "the ghost in the
machine", "the small man within the small man" etc. Where is "I", the person who uses his brain? Who is it that realises the
act of knowing? As Saint Francis of Assisi said: "What we search for is the one that sees".9
Now, think of this: The book in your hand, the room you are in, in brief,
all the images in front of you are seen inside your brain. Is it the atoms that see these images? Blind, deaf, unconscious
atoms? Why did some atoms acquire this quality whereas some did not? Do our acts of thinking, comprehending, remembering,
being delighted, being unhappy, and everything else consist of the electrochemical reactions between these atoms?
When we ponder these questions, we see that there is no sense in looking
for will in atoms. It is clear that the being that sees, hears, and feels is a supra-material being. This being is "alive"
and it is neither matter nor an image of matter. This being associates with the perceptions in front of it by using the image
of our body.
This being is the "soul".
The aggregate of perceptions we call the "material world" is a dream observed
by this soul. Just as the bodies we possess and the material world we see in our dreams have no reality, the universe we occupy
and the bodies we possess also have no material reality.
The real being is the soul. Matter consists merely of perceptions viewed
by the soul. The intelligent beings that write and read these lines are not each a heap of atoms and molecules-and the chemical
reactions between them-but a "soul".
The Real Absolute Being
All these facts bring us face to face with a very significant question.
If the thing we acknowledge to be the material world is merely comprised of perceptions seen by our soul, then what is the
source of these perceptions?
The brain is a heap of cells made up of protein and fat molecules. It is formed of nerve cells called neurons. There is
no power in this piece of meat to observe the images, to constitute consciousness, or to create the being we call "myself".
In answering this question, we must consider the following: matter does
not have a self-governing existence by itself. Since matter is a perception, it is something "artificial". That is, this perception
must have been caused by another power, which means that it must have been created. Moreover, this creation must be continuous.
If there were not a continuous and consistent creation, then what we call matter would disappear and be lost. This may be
likened to a television on which a picture is displayed as long as the signal continues to be broadcast. So, who makes our
soul see the stars, the earth, plants, people, our bodies and all else that we see?
It is very evident that there is a Creator, Who has created the entire
material universe, that is, the sum of perceptions, and continues His creation ceaselessly. Since this Creator displays such
a magnificent creation, He surely has eternal power and might.
This Creator introduces Himself to us. He has revealed a Book and through
this Book has described Himself, the universe and the reason of our existence to us.
This Creator is Allah and the name of His book is the Qur'an.
The facts that the heavens and the earth, that is, the universe is not
stable, that their presence is only made possible by Allah's creating them and that they will disappear when He ends this
creation, are all explained in a verse as follows:
It is Allah Who sustains the heavens and the earth, lest they
cease (to function) : and if they should fail, there is none - not one - can sustain them thereafter: Verily He is Most Forbearing,
Oft-Forgiving. (Surat al-Fatir: 41)
As we mentioned at the beginning, some people have no genuine understanding
of Allah and so they imagine Him as a being present somewhere in the heavens and not really intervening in worldly affairs.
The basis of this logic actually lies in the thought that the universe is an assembly of matter and Allah is "outside" this
material world, in a far away place. In some false religions, belief in Allah is limited to this understanding.
However, as we have considered so far, matter is composed only of sensations.
And the only real absolute being is Allah. That means that only Allah is; all things except Him are shadow beings. Consequently,
it is impossible to conceive of Allah as separate and outside of this whole mass of matter. Allah is surely "everywhere" and
encompasses all. This reality is explained in the Qur'an as follows;
Allah! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting,
Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in
His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they
compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue
in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Surat al-Baqarah:
That Allah is not bound by space and that He encompasses everything roundabout
is stated in another verse as follows
To Allah belong the east and the west: Whithersoever you turn,
there is the face of Allah. For Allah is all-pervading, all-knowing. (Surat al-Baqarah: 115)
Since material beings are each a perception, they cannot see Allah;
but Allah sees the matter He created in all its forms. In the Qur'an, this is stated thus: "No vision can grasp Him, but His
grasp is over all vision." (Surat al-An'am: 103)
That is, we cannot grasp Allah's being with our eyes, but Allah has thoroughly
encompassed our inside, outside, looks and thoughts. We cannot utter any word but with His knowledge, nor can we even take
While we watch these sensory perceptions in the course of our lives, the
closest being to us is not any one of these sensations, but Allah Himself. The secret of the following verse in the Qur'an
is concealed in this reality: "It is We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We
are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein." (Surah Qaf: 16) When a person thinks that his body
is only made up of "matter", he cannot comprehend this important fact. If he takes his brain to be "himself", then the place
that he accepts to be the outside is 20-30 cm away from him. However, when he understands that there is nothing such as matter,
and that everything is imagination, notions such as outside, inside, far or near lose meaning. Allah has encompassed him and
He is "infinitely close" to him.
Why is it not then that when it (soul) comes up to the throat,
and you at that time look on, We are nearer to him than you, but you see not.
Allah informs men that He is "infinitely close" to them with the
verse "When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them)." (Surat al-Baqarah: 186). Another verse relates the same fact: "We told you that your Lord encompasses mankind round about." (Surat al-Isra, 60).
Man is misled in thinking that the being closest to him is himself. Allah,
in truth, is even closer to us than ourselves. He has called our attention to this point in the verse "Why is it not then
that when it (soul) comes up to the throat, and you at that time look on, We are nearer to him than you, but you see not."
(Surat al-Waqi'ah: 83-85). As we are told in the verse, people live unaware of this phenomenal
fact because they do not see it with their eyes.
If one ponders deeply on all that is said here, he will soon realise this amazing, extraordinary situation by himself:
that all the events in the world are but mere imagination…
On the other hand, it is impossible for man, who is nothing but a shadow
being, to have power and will independent of Allah. The verse "But Allah has created you and what you do!" (Surat
as-Saffat: 96) shows that everything we experience takes place under Allah's control. In the Qur'an, this reality is
stated in the verse "You did not throw, when you threw, it was Allah Who threw" (Surat al-Anfal,
17) whereby it is emphasised that no act is independent of Allah. Since the human being is a shadow being, he himself
does not perform the act of throwing. However, Allah gives this shadow being the feeling of self. In reality, Allah performs
all acts. If someone takes the acts he does as his own, he evidently means to deceive himself.
This is the reality. A person may not want to concede this and may think
of himself as a being independent of Allah; but this does not change a thing. Of course his unwise denial is again within
Allah's will and wish.
Everything That You Possess Is Intrinsically Illusory
As may be seen clearly, it is a logical scientific fact that the "external
world" has no material reality and that it is a collection of images Allah perpetually presents to our soul. Nevertheless,
people usually do not include, or rather do not want to include, everything in the concept of the "external world".
Think about this issue sincerely and boldly. You will realise that your
house, furniture, car - which is perhaps recently bought, office, jewellery, bank account, wardrobe, spouse, children, colleagues,
and everything else that you possess are in fact included in this imaginary external world projected to you. Everything you
see, hear, or smell - in short - perceive with your five senses around you is a part of this "imaginary world": the voice
of your favourite singer, the hardness of the chair you sit on, a perfume whose smell you like, the sun that keeps you warm,
a flower with beautiful colours, a bird flying in front of your window, a speedboat moving swiftly on the water, your fertile
garden, the computer you use at your job, or your hi-fi that has the most advanced technology in the world…
This is the reality, because the world is only a collection of images created
to test man. People are tested all through their limited lives with perceptions having no reality. These perceptions are intentionally
presented as appealing and attractive. This fact is mentioned in the Qur'an:
Fair in the eyes of people is the love of things they covet: Women
and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled
land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). (Surat Ali 'Imran: 14)
Most people cast their religion away for the lure of property, wealth,
heaped-up hoards of gold and silver, dollars, jewellery, bank accounts, credit cards, wardrobes full of clothes, last-model
cars, in short, all the forms of prosperity that they either possess or strive to possess. They concentrate only on this world
while forgetting the hereafter. They are deceived by the "fair and alluring" face of the life of this world, and fail to keep
up prayer, give charity to the poor, and perform worship that will make them prosper in the hereafter. They say instead, "I
have things to do", "I have ideals", "I have responsibilities", "I do not have enough time", "I have things to complete" and
"I will do it in the future". They consume their lives trying to prosper only in this world. In the verse, "They know but
the outer (things) in the life of this world: but of the End of things they are heedless" (Surat ar-Rum:
7), this misconception is described.
The fact we describe in this chapter, namely that everything is an image,
is very important for its implications that render all lusts and boundaries meaningless. The verification of this fact makes
it clear that everything people possess or toil to possess - wealth acquired with greed, children of whom they boast, spouses
whom they consider closest to them, friends, their dearest bodies, the social status which they believe to be a superiority,
the schools they have attended, the holidays on which they have been - is nothing but mere illusion. Therefore, all the effort,
the time spent, and the greed, prove unavailing.
This is why some people unwittingly make fools of themselves when they
boast of their wealth and properties or of their "yachts, helicopters, factories, holdings, manors and lands" as if they really
exist. Those well-to-do people who ostentatiously sail in their yachts, show off their cars, keep talking about their wealth,
suppose that their posts rank them higher than everyone else and keep thinking that they are successful because of all this,
should actually think what kind of a state they will find themselves in once they realise that success is nothing but an illusion.
These scenes are seen many times in dreams as well. In their dreams, they
also have houses, fast cars, extremely precious jewels, rolls of dollars, and loads of gold and silver. In their dreams, they
are also positioned in high ranks, own factories with thousands of workers, possess power to rule over many people, and dress
in clothes that make everyone admire them. Just as someone who, on waking, boasted about his possessions in his dreams would
be ridiculed, he is sure to be equally ridiculed for boasting of images he sees in this world. Both what he sees in his dreams
and in this world are mere images in his mind.
Similarly, the way people react to events they experience in the world
will make them feel ashamed when they realise the reality. Those who fiercely fight with each other, rave furiously, swindle,
take bribes, commit forgery, lie, covetously withhold their money, do wrong to people, beat and curse others, rage aggressively,
are full of passion for office and rank, are envious, and show off, will be disgraced when they realise that they have done
all of this in a dream.
Since Allah creates all these images, the Ultimate Owner of everything
is Allah alone. This fact is stressed in the Qur'an
But to Allah belong all things in the heavens and on earth: And
He it is that encompasses all things. (Surat an-Nisa: 126)
It is great foolishness to cast religion away for the sake of imaginary
passions and thus lose the eternal life which is meant to be an everlasting deprivation.
At this stage, one point should be understood. It is not said here that
"the possessions, wealth, children, spouses, friends, rank you have with which you are being stingy, will vanish sooner or
later, and therefore they do not have any meaning", but that "all the possessions you seem to have do not exist, but they
are merely dreams composed of images which Allah shows you to test you". As you see, there is a big difference between the
But to Allah belong all things in the heavens and on earth:
And He it is that
Encompasses all things.
(Surat an-Nisa, 126)
Although one does not want to acknowledge this right away and would
rather deceive oneself by assuming everything one has truly exists, one is finally to die and in the hereafter everything
will be clear when we are recreated. On that day "sharp is one's sight" (Surah Qaf: 22) and
we will see everything much more clearly. However, if we have spent our lives chasing after imaginary aims, we are going to
wish we had never lived this life and say "Ah! Would that (Death) had made an end of me! Of no profit to me has been my
wealth! My power has perished from me!" (Surat al-Haqqah: 27-29)
What a wise man should do, on the other hand, is to try to understand the
greatest reality of the universe here in this world, while he still has time. Otherwise, he will spend all his life running
after dreams and face a grievous penalty at the end. In the Qur'an, the final state of those people who run after illusions
(or mirages) in this world and forget their Creator, is stated as follows:
But the unbelievers, their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts,
which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: But he finds
Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is swift in taking account. (Surat
Logical Defects of the Materialists
From the beginning of this chapter, it is clearly stated that matter does
not have absolute being, as materialists claim, but is rather a collection of sense impressions Allah creates. Materialists
resist this evident reality, which destroys their philosophy, in an extremely dogmatic manner and bring forward baseless anti-theses.
For example, one of the biggest advocates of materialist philosophy in the
20th century, an ardent Marxist, George Politzer, gave the "bus example" as the "greatest evidence" for the existence of matter.
According to Politzer, philosophers who think that matter is only a perception also run away when they see a bus about to
run them over and this is the proof of the physical existence of matter.10
When another famous materialist, Johnson, was told that matter is a collection
of perceptions, he tried to "prove" the physical existence of stones by giving them a kick.11
But the Unbelievers,- their deeds are like a mirage in sandy
deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: But
he finds Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is swift in taking account.
A similar example is given by Friedrich Engels, the mentor of Politzer and
founder, along with Marx, of dialectical materialism. He wrote, "if the cakes we eat were mere perceptions, they would not
stop our hunger"..12
There are similar examples and some outrageous sentences such as "you understand
the existence of matter when you are slapped in the face" in the books of famous materialists such as Marx, Engels, Lenin,
The disorder in comprehension that gives way to these examples of
the materialists is their interpreting the explanation of "matter is a perception" as "matter is a trick of light". They think
that perception is limited to sight and that other faculties like touch have physical correlates. A bus knocking down a man
makes them say "look, it crashed, therefore it is not a perception". They do not understand that all perceptions experienced
during a bus crash, such as hardness, collision, and pain, are also formed in the brain.